Two new courses and more confrontation hours on Political Science

The Bachelor’s degree programme in Political Science was actually ready to proceed in accordance with the study progress reform. Nevertheless, the Department of Political Science and Government decided to thoroughly review the degree programme. This led to the development of two new courses.

2014.09.18 | Ingrid Marie Fossum

When some things progress, other things might end up falling between two chairs. This was the situation at the Department of Political Science and Government, where they found the Bachelor’s programme to be in need of a complete overhaul – not so much in the face of the study progress reform, but because there was a request for higher quality of teaching.

A thorough review of the programme made it clear that the students did not get enough confrontation hours, and this falls well in line with the political winds in the Danish Parliament, where there has recently been several requests to increase the number of teaching hours. At the Department of Political Science and Government the overhaul has therefore given way to two new courses: Political Institutions - Western Countries, EU and Foreign Policy as well as Policy Evaluation.

But how does the implementation of two new courses, and thereby also two additional exams, cohere with the study progress reform?

“Students on the programme actually didn’t have a lot of exams before,” answers Gitte Sommer Harrits, who is director of studies at the department. “So in that sense, there was room for two new courses and two additional exams. The students will get more teaching hours and will be more busy. As a result of these changes, there will be more confrontation hours for the students on the 4th, 5th and 6th semester, and this will increase the overall quality of the education.” 

Two new courses: Political Institutions and Policy Evaluation

As of September 2015, the courses on the Bachelor’s degree programmes in both Political Science and Social Science will be moved around to make room for the two new courses. The course Political Institutions covers topics such as the political systems in the EU’s and in selected Western countries as well as the interaction between the various political systems and their respective foreign policies.  Some of this material was previously incorporated in the courses International Politics and Comparative Politics, which from now on will have a narrower focus.

“We have long thought that too many of our courses on the programme covered topics related to the EU. So it makes sense to bring together the EU topics into one course. Moreover, we will be able to bring back material about political organisations, which has fallen out over the years. That’s what happens when courses develop. Once in a while you need to sit down and take a really good look at the degree programmes,” says Gitte Sommer Harrits.

In the other course on Policy Evaluation, the students are given the chance to put into practice what they have learned throughout their Bachelor’s programme. The course is based on casework, and the students will evaluate, assess and initiate the implementation of policies and write recommendation memorandums as though they were members of a board or ministry asked to put forth a recommendation.

“This is the reality that a lot of our students will be facing once they graduate,” says Gitte Sommer Harrits.

The students’ voices were heard

Over the course of the spring semester, a working group of lecturers and students from the Department of Political Science and Government have been working on the reform of the Bachelor’s programme, and the proposal has now been unanimously approved by the board of studies.

“The students have been involved throughout this entire process. The discussion actually began with an entry in the department magazine Kandestøberen, where a couple of students described their fifth semester in particular as a semester with a lot of free time. Since then we have been discussing the changes continuously in the board of studies, and the concrete proposal has been prepared by a working group consisting of two lecturers, one of whom is me, and two students. The students have also discussed the various suggestions regularly with their peers.”

The next step is to review and discuss the contents of the Master’s degree programme on the basis of a questionnaire, which has been distributed to Master’s students and graduates from the Department of Political Science and Government. The study progress reform comes into force on the Master’s programmes in a year.

Further info

Gitte Sommer Harrits, director of studies
Dept. of Political Science and Government
M: Gitte@ps.au.dk
T: +45 8716 5579

Aarhus BSS